Montclair State University hosted a coronavirus (COVID-19) remembrance event at the amphitheater on Sept. 30.
Heartfelt messages were written on paper bags filled with candles to signify the light from a lost loved one. Bags were laid all across the amphitheater, which lit up the stage after the sun had set.
Dr. Dawn Meza Soufleris, the vice president of Student Development and Campus Life, had some words of condolence to give at the event.
“For many of us, we would suffer loss, loss of a loved one, a cherished friend, a neighbor, a coworker, but loss can be in other forms as well,” Soufleris said. “The loss of a job, the closure of a favorite restaurant. The inability to do something that we really love to do.”
Afterward, Karla Farfan Miguel, the executive vice president of the Student Government Association, came onstage to give condolences. Miguel mentioned how Latino and Black communities were unfairly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Black and Latino communities were devastated by the coronavirus since the very beginning, at disproportionate rates,” Miguel said. “This was due to access to care challenges and social determinants of health challenges. Additionally, the previous government administration had made the choice to seek health care during these troubling times hard on the Latino community.”
The Rev. Jim Chern from the Newman Catholic Center also came onstage during the COVID-19 remembrance. Chern brought up that it is impossible to forget COVID-19 because it has affected all of us in one way or another.
“I was talking with a few students the other day about this, our [COVID-19] remembrance,” Chern said. “There were two responses I got: ‘Remembrance? Who could forget it,’ and ‘I’d rather forget it.'”
After Chern gave his speech, a moment of silence was given for all of those who had lost a loved one during the pandemic. Students found themselves comforting one another, as they had the chance to reflect and mourn those who were close to them.
Finally, Margaree Coleman-Carter, dean of students, came to the microphone to give closing remarks about the special event. She thanked everyone for coming out to help the Montclair State community, and for being a part of something so wonderful to help students and faculty alike.
“It will get better. It’s going to get better because we’re going to hope and expect that it will be better,” Coleman-Carter said.
As the crowds began to dwindle and the sun began to set, the candles inside of each bag began to shine, lighting up the messages each person handwrote.